Cat's Meow [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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In november of 1924 a mysterious hollywood death occurred aboard media mogul william randolph hearsts yacht. Included among the famous guests that weekend were charlie chaplin hearsts mistress starlet marion davies the studio system creator producer thomas ince & gossip columnist louella parsons Studio: Lions Gate Home Ent. Release Date: 09/14/2004 Starring: Kirsten Dunst Edward Herrmann Run time: 112 minutes Rating: Pg13 Director: Peter Bogdanovich
A Hollywood scandal springs to life in Peter Bogdanovich's lively Cat's Meow. In 1924 the immensely powerful publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst held a yacht party that ended with a gunshot. Between Hearst's influence and that of his glitterati guests (including Louella Parsons and Charlie Chaplin), no satisfying account of what happened ever made it to the public. The Cat's Meow reconstructs one of the more whispered-about possible scenarios and has quite a bit of fun doing so. Cast and crew alike skewer 1920s Hollywood decadence and, by extension, today's. Eddie Izzard is a boldly odd casting choice as Chaplin, but he succeeds, refusing to fall back on Little Tramp mannerisms. There are several other good performances, but best of all is the cool-as-sherbet Joanna Lumley as the deliciously jaded Elinor Glyn. The script is a strong one, never stooping to the excesses of its characters--Bogdanovich's take is far from the most lurid allegations of what happened that weekend. --Ali Davis
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It's not all bad. Kirsten Dunst is as delightful as always, and Joanna Lumley is nicely sardonic. There are some good scenes. But overall it feels a little dry and stodgy.
As Hearst, Edward Hermann portrays the lonely paranoia of power; and Kirsten Dunst gives us a glimpse of the comedienne that Marion Davies might have been if given the right part. Eddie Izzard depicts Chaplin' self-conscious charm; Joanna Lumley, who narrates the story in the 'voice' of an Elinor Glynn novel, is convincing; and if anyone thinks that Jennifer Tilly's interpretation of Louella Parsons is exaggerated, then they have never heard that redoubtable purveyor of gossip on the radio, as, every week, she literally meowed "Hello to All of You From Hollywood!" Bogdonovich has adroitly directed an ensemble cast in which every character is pitch-perfect [The girls playing the starlets are especially commendable.].
Part Agatha Christie mystery and part Hollywood thriller, "The Cat's Meow" is a keeper, which I take off the shelf every year and watch again, always discovering some new detail, to my great enjoyment.
Directed by Peter Bogdanovich and a screenplay by Steven Peros (adapted from his stage play) this does make for some good viewing although in places it is perhaps a little too long winded. As William Randolph Hearst has a party on his yacht there are a number of quite important people aboard. Ince is near bankruptcy and is hoping that he can do a deal with Hearst, and the reason for this is being kept secret with the main purpose for the cruise to purportedly celebrate Ince’s birthday. Charlie Chaplin is aboard, still getting over the flop of his last film and some sleaze reported in papers. Hearst’s mistress, Marion Davies is also there, and Hearst thinks that she could be having an affair with Chaplin. There are also others on this weekend getaway. It has to be admitted that I know three slightly different accounts of what happened on the yacht during this partying, but Peros based his original play and this script on the most popular one.
As you will see here certain of the guests have come to a sort of crossroads in their lives where they could go many different ways, but is what happened on the boat one of the reasons some seemed to have found their success? Well acted and with a certain low key aspect here this is slightly ponderous, which may be one of the reasons that this has never really been that popular, either at the cinema or on DVD. But don’t be discouraged as it does paint an interesting picture, one that the events it portrays are still been discussed today, all these years after the death of Ince. And it has always felt a bit of a shame to me that his mysterious death has brought him more fame to most people than the actual pioneering and innovative ideas that he brought to the whole film industry.
This comes with subtitles, a making of, commentaries and other features.
The acting, especially from Eddie Izzard (Charlie Chaplin), Joanna Lumley (Elinor Glyn) & Kirsten Dunst (Marion Davies) is spot on. The costumes are to die for & the setting, which is mostly on media tycoon William Randolph Hearst's private yatch, is fantastic.
This film has brought to the screen what is a difficult subject as no real explaination has ever been given to the shooting & death during the celebrity party in November 1924.
I was surprised to find this film was not a UK production as it feels so British.
A special mention must go to the music which is quite simply brilliant!
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